The management of severe alcoholic liver disease and variceal bleeding in the intensive care unit

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Purpose of review

To address recent advances in the understanding and management of alcohol-related chronic liver disease and its acute complications.

Recent findings

Refinements have been made in the prognosis and treatment of alcoholic hepatitis, and new insights have been gained into the pathophysiology of the hepatorenal syndrome. Further trial evidence has emerged concerning therapy in the hepatorenal syndrome, and there has been some clarification of the benefits and risks relating to albumin dialysis/extracorporeal liver support, and consensus in the early management of variceal haemorrhage.


Recent developments have led to modifications in the standard of care of patients with severe alcoholic liver disease, many of which are highly applicable to the general critical care setting. These changes apply specifically to alcoholic hepatitis, the hepatorenal syndrome and variceal bleeding, common conditions with a high mortality rate, upon which changes in practice can have a significant impact.

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